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Biosafety agency to enforce act establishing GMOs approval

AKOR SYLVESTER, Abuja Bureau Chief

NATIONAL Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) is set to enforce the Act establishing ownership of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) as the deadline earlier given to owners expired end of last year.
The Agency had called on all owners of GMOs suspects that are already in Nigeria to formalize them as the moratorium for the formalization of such products ended by 31st December, 2015.
The Agency noted that full enforcement of the Act establishing the NBMA will commence in 2016.
It would be recalled that the national Biosafety Management Agency was established to provide regulatory framework to adequately safeguard human health and the environment from potential adverse effects of modern biotechnology and genetically modified organisms.
Director General of NBMA, Rufus Ebegba while addressing stakeholders at the maiden National Biosafety conference held recently in Enugu said ample evidences exists that there are unapproved genetically modified organisms suspects in Nigeria.
“All those individuals, companies and institutions that are dealing in unapproved modern biotechnology and GMOs have a window of six months from June 2015 to formalize their dealings as the biosafety law would be enforced,” he said.
The Director General called on institutions that would engage in modern biotechnology practice to seek accreditation from National Biosafety Management Agency. The Agency, he noted has the capacity to give Nigeria the desired holistic Biosafety in a transparent manner so that the nation can benefit from modern biotechnology maximally without compromising safety to the environment and human health.
He said the essence of technology is to enhance the well-being of mankind, noting that there is also no doubt that advancement in any technology goes with some potential adverse impacts. Modern biotechnology is not an exception in this regard.  It is in this context that Biosafety has become a means of addressing potential adverse impacts of modern technology and genetically modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity taking into account risks to human health, he said.
Ebegba further stated that application of modern biotechnology under a legal framework can be a valuable tool for addressing the several global and national challenges in the areas of human health, agriculture, environment, industry, poverty and unemployment.
Nigeria, according to him is endowed with rich biodiversity and the federal government does not wish advancement in modern biotechnology to adversely impact on human health and the environment. “It is in this premise that Nigeria signed and ratified the Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety in 2000 and 2003 respectively as a commitment to global Biosafety management,” he said.
The Director General also informed the stakeholders at the Biosafety conference that as part of Biosafety policy on commercialization of GMOs in Nigeria, any GMO farm that is up to 50 hectares would be required to establish 5 per cent of the land with trees adaptable to the area. This is with a view to increasing Nigerian forest cover.
The 2015 National Biosafety Conference was organised in collaboration with Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu and other partners including African Biosafety Network of Expertise, NEPAD Agency and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).

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